God's Vindication of A Godly Magistrate (Daniel Sermon 9 of 17)
February 18, 2001 | Andrew Davis
I. Voice of the Martyrs
We are looking this morning at Daniel Chapter 6, perhaps one of the most familiar passages in the Old Testament. It's right up there with Noah's ark, and David and Goliath, but I think the Lord still has more light to break forth from His word. And I think it's important for us to look at this passage in its proper context, that we see exactly what kind of trial of faith that Daniel went through and what it represents for us today.
Recently, I've come across a Christian group entitled the Voice of the Martyrs, and I've got a magazine here that they put out, "Voice of the Martyrs." And if any of you are interested in this group, I think it would be well worth your time to write to them and they'll send you a free subscription to their magazine. And in there, in that magazine and in a video I received, there's information about people who are giving their lives for Jesus Christ around the world. Now, you may think, "How can this still be going on today? How could it be the governments are persecuting and actually taking the lives of people simply because they trust in Jesus Christ?" But it's still going on today. For example, we feel perhaps that communism has reached its end with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but that's not true. There are many communist nations today, and Karl Marx, the father of communism, had this to say about our faith, "The idea of God is the keynote of a perverted civilization. It must be destroyed. The idea of God is the keynote of a perverted civilization, it must be destroyed." And so communist nations, throughout history, in the last 100 years and up till today, do everything they can to eradicate, to destroy faith and believers.
And I heard about a particular tribe in Southeast Asia, throughout the region of Southeast Asia, but centered in the northern part of Vietnam, the Hmong tribe, they live in the hills there, and in 1990 they heard the word of truth, they heard the Gospel and they believed. A revival broke out and many of them came to faith in Christ. Immediately, the communist government in Northern Vietnam began to persecute them, to arrest them, to try to persuade them to go back to worshipping evil spirits and tribal deities, but they were not successful. At present, even while I speak today, as far as I know, 23 Hmong pastors are in prison today for their faith, and they can go anytime if they renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
Last year, one of them was killed by having a knife pushed through his mouth. I don't want to shock you, but this is the kind of thing that's going on right now. Other Hmong Christians have been killed by having boiling water poured down their throats simply for having a Bible, simply for owning a Bible. And this is the kind of thing that's going on around the world. One Hmong woman said, "We've been persecuted by the government so many times, we are no longer afraid of what they can do to us. We trust instead the Scripture and the truth, that our faith is being tested, and the gold and silver of our faith is being purified." Incredible. But then she said, "Please remember to pray for us."
Now, Hebrews 13:3 says that we should remember those in prison as if we were their fellow prisoners, and those who are suffering persecution as if we ourselves were suffering that persecution. We need to hear the Voice of the Martyrs, and the reason I bring it up today is because Daniel suffered the same kind of persecution, but God miraculously delivered Him. He was attacked by the government and God delivered him. But it is not always going to be that way. And as we go on in the Book of Daniel, we're going to see, especially in Daniel Chapter 7, with the rise of the anti-Christ and the tribulation and the suffering that's going to go on as depicted in Daniel 7, the war against the saints, that God is not always going to pluck Daniel out of the lions' den, but rather they are going to be martyrs for the faith. And we, who are not suffering that kind of persecution, must remember to pray for them and realize that God holds them dear, and that their deaths are precious in His sight.
The context in Daniel
So, how does this fit into the Book of Daniel? Well, understand that the Jews were taken out of their promised land because of their sin and brought into the land of Babylon. And immediately they were put under the authority of a pagan government, and immediately there was a pull toward doing evil things, violating conscience. Remember in Daniel 1, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and Daniel resolved that they would not defile themselves with the food provided from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's table. And so there's a pull immediately under the government toward doing evil and doing wrong. That was just the first pass, the first glancing pass. By the time it got to Chapter 3, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to choose between life and faith in God, with the threat of a burning fiery furnace hanging over their head and a very real threat, the battle had been joined between that pagan government and faith in God. And so they were delivered also. And so we have here also, in Daniel 6, a struggle between a godly man and a government which seeks to take his life.
II. The Godly Viciously Trapped (vs. 1-17)
Now, as we're going to look through this, we see the passage breaking into two sections. Verses 1 through 17, we see the godly, namely Daniel, viciously trapped. And in verses 18-28, we see God vindicating His servant and His name. Let's look first at the first section. I just propose to move through this section by section, and understand what God is saying to us here.
A Godly Character and Promotion (vs. 1-3)
Beginning at Verse 1, it says, "It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now, Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom." So, in Verse 1 through 3, we see Daniel elevated to a position of power.
Now, realize just the incredible shock and the amazement that this would even happen. When last we saw Daniel last week, Daniel was made the third highest ruler in the Kingdom of Babylon the night that Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian army. Now would you want to be wearing that purple robe and that gold chain around your neck the night the Medo-Persians go racing through the palace looking for anyone in charge? Absolutely not. What happens to the previous administration in these pagan kingdoms when they're toppled? They're almost always killed, executed, at least exiled where they can do no damage. I don't actually know of any case where the third highest ruler of one kingdom, in the ancient world, was made the third highest ruler of the next kingdom. But it shouldn't surprise us. What is the lesson that we have learned from the Book of Daniel? That God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and He gives throne so whoever He chooses. And so if He wants Daniel to be the third highest ruler in Babylon, and then Daniel the third highest ruler in the kingdom to topple Babylon, He can do that. And that's exactly what happens here. It's really remarkable.
And so Darius the Mede comes in and takes control of Babylon. We don't know much about Darius. I think there was probably a co-regency with him and Cyrus the Great, and so He's ruling over that area of Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire. And so he has a plan to organize his empire. He's going to structure it so that he will not suffer loss. This problem means loss of revenue but loss of anything. These are the resources of the empire. And he wants to administer, he wants to structure it and arrange it so that it will be well run. Well, it isn't long before Daniel, through his exceptional qualities, through his wisdom, through his character and his ability, designates himself or shows himself to be better than any of the other administrators. And so Darius has a plan to raise him to be probably the third highest ruler behind Cyrus the Great and himself.
A Godless Cowardly Plot (vs. 4-9)
In Verses 4 through 9, we see the godless, cowardly plot. "At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy, and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.' So, the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said, 'Oh, King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next 30 days, except to you, oh, King, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, oh, King, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.'" Verse 9, "So King Darius put the decree in writing."
Now, Jesus has made us many promises in this world, hasn't He? One of those that we don't cherish necessarily or hold to our heart is John 16:33. In this world, you will have, what? Trouble. You're going to have trouble in this world. The Apostle Paul says the same thing when he says, "Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." And so Daniel has some enemies.
Now, what are the roots of this plot? It's jealousy. They're jealous over Daniel. They're jealous over the fact that he is going to be elevated, that he's going to have an important position, "that it wasn't me chosen. Why wasn't it me? I'm a good administrator. I've known Darius for years. Why this foreigner?" And so there's probably a racial aspect as well, "This Jewish exile, and he's going to be third highest in the kingdom. How can it be?" They're jealous. And so they launch out in a plot to destroy him.
Now recently... I'm not making any political statements. I'm not able to do that anyway, but I wouldn't make it. But recently, Linda Chavez, who was one of the new president's designates for a cabinet post, was found to have some improprieties in her life and she had to withdraw her candidacy for that post. And she talked about the politics of search and destroy. Well, I see the same thing here in this chapter. It hasn't changed at all. Human nature has not changed much in all these years. We know God hasn't changed at all, but have humans changed that much? And so there's a searching and a destroying for Daniel. They're looking for something they can find to destroy him, but amazingly they come up with nothing.
Now, nowadays, if you're going to search somebody's life to try to find a skeleton in the closet, you use electronic surveillance equipment, maybe some bugs, maybe look through their emails or something on their computer, try to find some skeleton in their closet. But with Daniel, they can find nothing. Maybe they've got some household spies and they've got... They're hiring some of the servants. "Daniel, we've got some servants for you." "Oh, great I'll put them on my staff." Next thing you know, they're giving reports back to these enemies. And the report comes back and say, "Well, what do you find? Does he have any bad habits? Any immorality? Is there anything... Is he taking any bribes? Is he doing anything on the side?" "No, can't find anything." "Nothing at all?" "Well, he prays a lot and he's working all the time. Other than that, really nothing." So, he's kind of a problem for them. They can't find anything wrong with this guy. The more they look, the more they are convinced that there's no skeletons in the closet. They say, "We will never find anything against Daniel, except that it has something to do with the law of his God." What a testimony.
If you had such an enemy, I mean a human being, searching your life for something to destroy you, will they find something? If they followed you and looked 168 hours a week, would they find something that could be put in a headline and ruin your life? With Daniel, they found nothing. They couldn't find anything. And they say, "How? How is it possible for a human being to be so pure that his enemy can find nothing wrong with him?" Well, I think it's that he believed he was being watched. Daniel believed he was being watched but not by them. By God, watched all the time. Just like Job said. This is what Job says, in Job Chapter 7 Verse 17. "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, oh, watcher of men?" Job called God a watcher of men. Is that what God is? Does He observe all the time everything you do? Oh, absolutely. And we're going to find next week that He's keeping a careful record of everything, too. Daniel Chapter 7 the court is seated, and the books are opened. And so I think Daniel knew very well he was being watched. It didn't matter to him what people thought. It mattered what God thought. And so he was pure, no sins of omission, and no sins of commission. He wasn't negligent.
Nor was he corrupt. He did everything the office required of him, with foresight, with diligence, with dedication. Anything the king wanted to do that didn't violate his conscience, he did it promptly and skillfully. On the other side, he wasn't on the take, he wasn't taking bribes. I've been in many places in the world where everything done by the government must be lubricated with a bribe. Government officials are in it for themselves, they're in it for the take. And if you don't give a bribe, you're not going to get the plane ticket you need or the visa, or any of the things you need from a government agency. Daniel wasn't that way. He had no interest in earthly wealth. He settled that back when he decided to eat only vegetables and water, and not eat any of the delicacies from the king's stable. He wasn't living that kind of a pleasure-seeking life, and so he was not corrupt. His personal holiness was at the root of everything he did.
And so they approached the king and they hatched a plot, a cowardly plot. They look in and they say, "Well, we're going to do something with the law of his God, and we're going to try to manipulate the circumstance." And they trick Darius.
Darius Should Have Known Better
Now, Darius is 62 years old, he should have known better. But he was manipulated by these advisers into issuing a decree that anyone who prayed to any god, other than to him, for the next 30 days would be thrown into the lion's den. And so they use flattery and pride, "O King Darius, live forever."
And then there's this law of the Medes and the Persians. You've heard about the law of the Medes and the Persians. It cannot be changed, it cannot be altered. Now, Nebuchadnezzar, he was a law unto himself. If he issued a decree, so it was until he changed his mind and went back the other way. That's just the way it was. Nebuchadnezzar was the law in Babylon. But the Medes and the Persians were different. If the king issued a decree, and it was written down in writing, it could not be changed even by the king himself. There was not absolute sovereignty or power in the Medo-Persian Empire.
And so Darius makes, in Verse 9, a dangerous decision. And you say, "Of course, it's dangerous to Daniel. Daniel's life was threatened by this. He would be thrown in the lions' den if he continued to pray to God." But I really think the real danger here is not to Daniel. Daniel has eternal life. He's not afraid to die. Who's the one threatened by Darius's decree? Well, it's Darius. Darius is threatened by his own degree, because our God is a jealous God and He will not have any rivals. "I am the Lord, your God… You shall have no other gods besides Me." And so there is to be no worship of Darius, no praying to Darius, and Darius put himself in a very dangerous position by doing this.
And this is the essence of the beast of Revelation 13. Government is supposed to be a good gift from God, established by His authority, to uphold His principles and retard unrighteousness in society. But instead we have the beast of Revelation 13, not the gift of God in Romans 13. And what is the essence of the beast in Revelation 13? That it takes the place of God, that the leader thinks himself worthy of worship. And so we're going to see over the next couple of weeks, as we study about the anti-Christ, that that's the essence of his reign as well, that he be worshipped. And so Darius, at a much lower level, wants to be prayed to.
A Godly Courageous Prayer (vs. 10-11)
Well, what does Daniel do? Well, Verse 10 and 11 tells us what he does. He prays, "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room, where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."
Now, Daniel has his proper priorities. In 1 Peter Chapter 2 Verse 17, Peter says that we are to "fear God and honor the king." Can I say to you, as Christians, that you are to fear God and honor the king, in that order? Fear God and honor the king. And where the king issues a decree that is in harmony with God's laws, you must obey. But where the king issues a decree that breaks God's laws, you must disobey. And so Daniel respectfully disobeyed. He went into his room, and he knelt down, and he prayed. And this is godly civil disobedience. And here we see Daniel willing to die for his daily quiet time. Stop and think about that. He's willing to die for his daily prayer life. What are you willing to die for? Think about that.
There was a poll recently done of youth, and less than one-third of the youth they polled could find anything worth dying for. Their lives were too comfortable, to pleasure-filled. Why would they ever want to trade that in for anything? There was no value, there was no truth, there was nothing that they felt it was worth laying down their lives for. Nothing. Martin Luther was willing to lay down his life for a doctrinal truth, justification by faith alone. He really thought he'd be burned at the stake. The early Christian martyrs were willing to lay down their lives rather than burn incense to a Roman Caesar. Modern Chinese Christians willing to lay down their lives rather than give up their house fellowships and churches. 19th century missionaries, who went to West Africa, packed up their things in their coffins because the ones that preceded them had died from tropical illnesses, willing to die rather than the West Africans should die without hearing of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, except that I may finish my race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace." I'm willing to die for that. Jesus would rather die than that you go to hell. Jesus would rather die than disobey His Father. What about you? What would you be willing to lay down your life for? It says in Revelation 12:11 of the martyrs, "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Do we love our lives too much? Is there nothing we'd be willing to die for? Daniel was willing to die for his daily quiet time.
And here in Verse 10 we get a glimpse of his root system. "Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God just as he had done before." Three times a day. "Well, I'm too busy for them, an important, an important woman. I've got important responsibilities." Daniel was in line to be third highest ruler in the Medo-Persian Empire with 120 districts to look over. Are you that busy? Really?
Three times a day he prayed and he got down on his knees. And we see his consistent private prayer is the source of his courage. It got him into trouble. He's about to be thrown in the lions' den, but it gave him the courage to respond properly. We're going to learn more about Daniel's prayer life in Daniel Chapter 9. We see his humility, he's down on his knees. And we see him praying, his passion for God's glory, his passion for God's people. He's praying toward Jerusalem. We'll find out more about that in Chapter 9, but He's praying for the restoration of God's people back to the Promised Land and for the plan of God. He's a godly man. How was your root system? How is your daily prayer time? How is your daily time in God's Word? This was strength for Daniel when it got him into trouble.
A Godless Consummated Plan (vs. 12-17)
Now, in Verses 12 through 17, we see the consummated plan, the godless consummated plan. "So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: 'Did you not publish a decree that during the next 30 days, anyone who prays to any god or man, except to you, oh, King, would be thrown into the lions' den?' The king answered, 'The decree stands in accordance with the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be repealed.' Then they said to the king, 'Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O, King, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.' When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed. He was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to king and said to him, 'Remember, oh, King, that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.' So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, 'May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.'" Verse 17, "A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of the nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed."
So, here in this section, we see the trap sprung. They've laid the trap, they've baited it, and now it's sprung. And they go to the king, and it comes down on Daniel. And we see again, I think, a racial side here in Verse 13, one of the exiles from Judah doesn't obey you, pays no attention to you, and so again, I think, that's some of the roots of their jealousy. And they make a false accusation. "He pays no attention to you. He's a godless kind of guy, a lawless kind of guy, he does whatever he wants to do." Well, that's a lie. Daniel lived to carry out Darius's commands, just as long as they didn't violate his conscience. And so Darius was thrown into immediate agony. What would he do? He knew he had been trapped. Not just Daniel, but he had been trapped. And he tries everything he can, he hires the best lawyers he can, but there's no escape. There's no changing the laws of the Medes and the Persians, and so Daniel must be thrown into the lions' den.
Now, what is this lions' den? You've all seen the children's Bibles. I'm sure you know what it looks like. Right? Well, there's this many different pictures as there are artists and imagination. I don't like the ones that show that lions looking too friendly. They look like stuffed animals, that's not good. Those lions were ferocious 600-pound beasts. And you understand something about a lion is that there's nothing you can do to intimidate it. Unlike other types of animals, and there's a fear of man within the heart of the animal, it's not there in terms of a lion. Not afraid at all. And if you keep them just hungry enough, they might devour somebody before they hit the ground. And that's exactly what happened to Daniel's accusers, and his enemies and their families, thrown down and devoured before they hit the ground. These were not tamed beasts. These were ferocious life-enders, is what they were.
And I think it probably was some kind of a cavern, with a hole in the ground, 'cause he was lowered down into it. And it was covered up by some kind of rock. It really is somewhat like a tomb, isn't it? And down he goes. And then the signet ring, which is such an interesting touch, basically it's the authority of King Darius that no one can move that stone or do anything to save Daniel until that night is passed. Do you remember another time when there was a cavern, and then a rock and a signet ring? Do you remember that? Jesus' burial. And Pontius Pilate issued a decree that no one should move that rock, and he sealed it with the Roman seal? Do you know who broke that seal? An angel. An angel broke that seal. Human government has jurisdiction up to a point, but God has ultimate authority. And He breaks that seal if He so chooses. He has ultimate authority to counteract anything issued by a government or a king.
III. God Vindicates His Servant and His Name (vs. 18-28)
Now, in Verses 18 through 28, God vindicates His servant and his name. Look at 18 through 20, we see Darius's compassion and his hope. "Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. And when he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?'" I wonder how long Daniel waited before he answered.
But there's a tremendous amount of compassion, some friendship here. I don't think he wanted to destroy Daniel at all. I think he was respecting him, Daniel probably already witnessing to him. He respected him. Daniel was probably, at this point, almost 90 years old, if not older. I know that's shocking. I know the artists always show him as a young man, but he was at the end of his life at this point, an old man. And Darius respected him, and I think maybe even loved him. And so he spends all night, no entertainment, nothing to eat, he's pacing the floor back and forth. And then finally the morning comes, and he runs down there as soon as he can, and he calls out. And he's got faith, doesn't he? He's talking to a dead man, a pile of bones. But there's a chance. Maybe he's heard about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If God can rescue them, maybe He can rescue Daniel out of the lions' den. And so he calls out, but the Aramaic gives strong indication that he doesn't think he's going to get an answer. He calls out in an anguished voice, "Daniel, are you there?" He doesn't think so. He doesn't think he's going to respond. And so there's a mixture of faith and unbelief here.
Well, we get the vindication. Darius is about to get the jolt of his life, and I think he'd probably never forget it the rest of his life. Verse 21, "Daniel answered, 'O, King, live forever!'" What a triumphant response. "Oh, King, live forever." "I'm going to live forever, King. What about you?" We'll get to that in a minute. "'Oh, King, live forever. My God sent his angel and shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O King.' The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted up from the den, no wound was found on him because he had trusted in his God." Isn't that beautiful? The vindication of God, the vindication of faith, and God vindicating His own Holy Name.
Now, I've thought about this, I use my imagination. I'm not an artist, so I'm not going to use my imagination to draw a picture. But I use my imagination about Daniel's night in the lions' den. Now, we know in a moment that his enemies are going to be thrown down into the lions' den and they're not going to make it to the bottom of the cavern before they're killed. How long do you think it was before Daniel realized he was going to survive that night in the lions' den? A minute? Maybe two. And he knows this is going to be "not the worst night of my life but the best night of my life. This is going to be the greatest night of my life." Sitting on a rock in a cavern, hearing the lions breathing in frustration but restrained, an angel there for conversation. And what did they talk about? Who knows? We will never know.
Why do we fear persecution so much? Why are we afraid of spending that night in the lions' den? That was the greatest night of Dan's life. And so we've got Darius pacing the floor back and forth, anguished. And we've got Daniel sitting on a rock, having a conversation with an angel. Why do we fear persecution? Why are we afraid? What are we afraid of? What can man do to me? The greatest night of his life. I think we fear the wrong things.
The Apostle Paul spoke of a lion. You remember this, 2 Timothy 4, mentioned it before? He was to give testimony to the Roman Emperor. And he said, "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. Yet the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever." The Apostle Paul knew he was about to die.
"Delivered from the lion's mouth" does not mean "I got to live another day." He said, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely to his to heavenly kingdom." How do you get to heaven? Well, you die, unless you're in that final generation when the Lord returns. He is not afraid to die. What is he afraid of? He's afraid of the lion, Satan, who's going to convince him somehow, at that critical moment, when he should have preached the Gospel to the Roman Caesar, to wimp out of fear, out of trembling. That's the lion he was delivered from. And the Lord was proclaimed boldly right in front of Caesar. "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack." I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid of death, nor am I afraid of Satan perverting me so that I'm not able to finish my race and complete the task God gave me to do. We fear the wrong lions. We should be afraid of failing God.
Now, why was he indicated? Because he was innocent. He said, "I never did anything wrong against... God first, always God first. Neither have I done anything wrong against you, oh, King."
The Pit-Diggers Fall In (vs. 24)
Now, in Verse 24, the pit diggers fall in. Psalm 7, David said, "He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself, his violence comes down on his own head." Now, I preached on this passage recently, and afterward I had time with some college students, and they said, "Now, we're troubled by the children being thrown in." First of all, we have to understand, it was Darius that threw the children in. There's no approval of this in the text. It's just what happened. These ancient near-eastern potentates were tyrants, wicked, and evil men. And what he did was wrong, but the text doesn't say one way or the other. Just realize that this behavior was common back then, and these potentates were evil tyrants, and this is not indicated in the text. But rather it shows a principle. If you attack and slander God's people, whatever attack you use, whatever plan you concoct, it will come back on your own head.
Darius’s Decree and Praise (25-27)
And then in Verses 25 through 27, there is this final poem of praise. "Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land, 'May you prosper greatly. I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and He endures forever. His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. He rescues and He saves, He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.'" What a poem of praise. He is the living God. His Kingdom is the eternal kingdom. He is a powerfully interfering God who does miracles on earth. He can do anything. He rescues His chosen people, and He does it by signs and wonders. And along with it, we're going to get a government decree that everyone should worship this God. Well, there's no separation of church and state back then. We had to wait 20 centuries for the Anabaptists to come and teach us about that, but there was a decree issued that everyone should worship God.
And then finally, in verse 28, "Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian." God completely vindicated Daniel.
IV. Lessons and Applications
And what applications can we take from this? First, concerning human government. Human government, as I've said, is a gift from God, Romans 13. But if it seeks to set itself up as a worshipped being, it becomes the beast of Revelation 13. Yet our government will flourish or fall, depending on the integrity of our leaders. We must fear God and honor the king. But we are in a participatory government. We are involved, aren't we? We get to influence the process. If our government leaders are negligent, if they are corrupt, if they are unrighteous, we will pay for it. And we are partly to blame.
President James Garfield, 1976, said this. "Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless or corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption." If you want that kind of government, keep electing those kinds of leaders. We are involved in the process. Why not have a bunch of Godly Christian leaders like Daniel? Do you notice that we're getting more and more marginalized? If we even say the word "Jesus Christ," we're not allowed to be involved in government any more? We've got to stand up and say that we want men and women of the character and courage of Daniel to lead the nation. Christian magistrates, Anabaptists said no Christian leaders, but Daniel is a role model for those who believe that we do have a place in government.
Secondly, concerning personal godliness, the grace of God produces holiness and godliness in you, but He does it through certain means. Personal prayer, personal Bible reading, attendance at worship, are these things working in you? If someone picked over your life, what would they find? How is your root system? How are your spiritual disciplines? Is there some habit pattern that's sucking strength from your spiritual life?
Thirdly, concerning workplace witness, Daniel was an evangelist in his job. Do you realize that the old ways that Southern Baptist have of come-and-see evangelism is not where we're heading? We're going to what it should be go-and-tell evangelism. And whereas the marketplace used to be the place of witness, now it's the workplace. Most of you have jobs, or many of you do, and you interact with far more non-Christians there than you do any other place. You have to be courageous enough to lift your voice for God at the workplace.
Now, there are rules about these things, but they can be worked through. It's possible to have Bible studies in some cases. It's possible to be a witness, at least to be praying for co-workers for an opportunity to witness. Workplace evangelism. And be a good employee, the way Daniel was, so that they search over your work record and find nothing but good, hard work skillfully done.
Forth, concerning persecution. We're going to talk more about this, the Voice of the Martyrs, but realize and pray for the martyrs around the world, and realize and fully expect that you are going to suffer for your faith, if you do what I just suggested, be a workplace witness.
Fifthly, concerning God's passion for His name and His people, why did God rescue Daniel? For the glory of His own name and because He loved Daniel, in that order. God does all things, first and foremost, for the glory of His name. And so God will vindicate His Holy Name as well now.
And then sixthly, concerning eternal life, He said, "O King, live forever." In Daniel Chapter 12, he referred to a time when those who sleep in the dust will come out of the dust, some to eternal life and some to eternal condemnation. Many people look at Daniel in the lions' den like a metaphor for troubles in your life. Well, let's go with that for a second. Someday you're going to stand before God. Imagine if you would, all of your sins surrounding you, threatening to tear your soul eternally. There's only one power in heaven or on earth that can silence those sins, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ. Do you know Christ as your Savior? And are you preaching that witness to those who don't? What will they do when their sins surround them on Judgment Day, with no one to answer and no one to save?
We're going to go down to a time of prayer, and after that, we're going to have the Lord's supper. I want you to reflect and think about the things we've talked about and prepare yourself in your hearts for the Lord's supper. Let's close in prayer.